Anne Moller-Racke’s Pinot Noirs represent the diversity of Sonoma County’s winegrowing regions.
A small winery with an impressive pedigree, Blue Farm Wines produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from vineyards in five Sonoma County AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). These vineyards include Anne Katherina on the small Los Carneros AVA estate of winery owner Anne Moller-Racke.
Vineyard, Mountain Views
A longtime winegrower and until 2019 the president of The Donum Estate, a Carneros winery she founded in 2000, Moller-Racke is known for meticulous farming techniques. Private tastings of her wines take place about 3 miles south of Sonoma Plaza on a patio with views of 7 planted acres of mostly Pinot Noir vines. To the east beyond the vineyard lie the Mayacamas Mountains, which separate the Sonoma and Napa valleys. A visit to Blue Farm usually begins with a vineyard tour that passes by a small pond and a rose garden with more than a hundred species.
Not surprisingly, the other vineyards in the Blue Farm universe are farmed as precisely as is Anne Katherina. Tastings usually begin with a Chardonnay or, from late spring to late summer, a rosé of Pinot Noir made from Sonoma Coast grapes. Typical of Blue Farm’s entire lineup, it displays Old World restraint without undercutting the vivacity of its California fruit. A Chardonnay from the Laceroni Vineyard (Russian River Valley AVA) has a pleasing mouthfeel but not at the expense of acidity and minerality. An estate Chardonnay debuts in August 2020.
Blue Farm’s several Pinot Noirs reveal Moller-Racke’s mission most fully. Her wines are based on rigorous farming of vineyards specifically chosen for their combination of terroir (soil, climate, and other conditions) and clones (variants of Pinot Noir). “Site determines quality, clone offers personality,” read one wine’s tasting notes. A particular vintage’s weather is another key element.
Fruit from the estate Anne Katherina Vineyard goes into three of the Pinots, one named for the vineyard; another for the Farmhouse Block, grapes that grow close to Moller-Racke’s circa-1880 Folk Victorian residence and 19th-century pump house; and a third, Riverbed, whose fruit comes from a vineyard section where alluvial soils predominate. Grapes for another estate wine, 1861, come from the Sonoma Valley AVA property of Moller-Racke’s business partner, Timothy Mott. Before joining the world of wine, Mott cofounded the interactive entertainment software company Electronic Arts.
“Made in the Vineyard”
Tastings usually include at least one estate Pinot Noir and one or two from the other sources, Laceroni and King Ridge Vineyard (Fort Ross–Seaview AVA). Because the wines are “made in the vineyard,” with the approach in the cellar generally hands-off, they tend to express their sites well, and as a group represent the diversity of Sonoma County Pinot Noir.
Tip: As Blue Farm Wines remerges from coronavirus lockdown, tastings are, as before, taking place only on weekdays. It’s best to request an appointment at least 48 hours in advance. The wines can also be found at a few dozen California restaurants and wine shops – the latter including nearby Sonoma’s Best – and a dozen or so in Idaho.
Why go: vineyard and mountain views; Pinot Noirs “made in the vineyard.”
Blue Farm Wines appears in Sonoma Pinot Noir Day Trip.
This story originally appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in mid-2020. Lead photo by Sam Zide and Roland Bello courtesy of Blue Farm Wines.